Budget supermarket Aldi has committed to powering its Aussie operations with 100% renewable energy by the end of 2021, and thrown down the challenge for its rivals to follow suit.
The supermarket chain has already reduced its overall operational emissions by 40% since 2012, it said in a statement.
Now, it has secured 10-year power purchasing agreements with two large wind farms — one in New South Wales and one in Victoria — which will provide renewable energy to all of Aldi’s stores in those states.
Also, through rooftop panels on its stores and distribution centres, Aldi expects to secure 15% of all its energy through solar power.
By the end of 2020, the aim is to have solar installations atop at least 250 stores and six distribution centres.
Tom Daunt, chief executive of Aldi in Australia, said the supermarket has already built a reputation for offering high-quality and affordable products.
Indeed, the brand has shaken up the supermarket space Down Under with its Special Buys products and affordable, everyday groceries.
“As we continue our journey in Australia, we want to reassure our shoppers that how we conduct business is equally important as the value we offer,” Daunt said in the statement.
“Our commitment to only use renewable electricity is just one of many milestones we will announce as we drive towards our vision of zero carbon emissions.”
With a total of 555 stores and eight distribution centres in Australia, Aldi claims to be the country’s 64th biggest user of electricity.
The shift to renewables “should provide clear evidence to Australia’s top energy users that renewable alternatives are affordable when factored into long term planning”, the statement says.
The beginning of the trend?
It may be early days yet, but this could mark the beginning of a renewable energy, carbon-neutral trend in Australian supermarkets.
It has also reduced the amount of other problematic plastics in its stores, and was ahead of the pack on committing to sustainably-sourced seafood.
This latest pledge has been welcomed by environmental organisation Greenpeace, which has called on Woolies and Coles to follow suit in this matter as well.
“Aldi knows a bargain when it sees one,” Lindsay Soutar, director for Greenpeace APAC’s REenergise campaign, said in a statement.
“Renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy and is bringing down power bills across the country.”
She noted that Aldi and other supermarkets have an abundance of spare roof space.
“In a sun-soaked country like Australia, it just makes so much sense to use that space to generate clean and affordable power.”
She also welcomed the deals with the wind farms, which will contribute to economic activity in regional Australia, and “future-proof job creation in clean energy at a time when we need it most”, she said.
“Aldi making this commitment demonstrates it’s both possible and desirable for our biggest supermarkets to run entirely on renewable energy and paves the way for Coles and Woolworths to do the same.”